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Meet a Transfer Student

Meet junior Araceli Gonzalez, who transferred to UP a year ago this semester!

Name: Araceli Gonzalez

Year: Junior

Major: Psychology

Hometown: Ventura, CA

Favorite Animal: Unicorn

Favorite Movie: A tie between Pineapple Express and Monsters Inc. 

Favorite Time of Day: This semester: Mondays at 1:45pm

You’re a transfer student, right? When did you transfer to the University of Portland?

Yes, I am. I transferred to UP spring of 2016 after completing my 2 years of core curriculum at a community college.

What school did you go to before?

I went to Santa Barbara City College (SBCC) which was an amazing school that I actually really miss from time to time. It was a beautiful campus that sat on the beach…literally, you crossed the street and your feet were in the sand.

Why did you choose to start at a community college?

When it came time to start applying for college everyone around me was set on going to a four year school, but I had barely begun to like school. It wasn’t until the last year or two of high school that I really became motivated to learn — shout out to Mrs. Strickland my Drama teacher. So in order to save money and get a better understanding of what direction I wanted to take my education I decided to go to community college. I also wanted to take this time and really figure out who I was, get an understanding of what I stood for and what my strengths and weaknesses were.

What made you want to choose UP?

That’s a funny story actually… It was only the beginning of my second semester at SBCC and I was already worrying about where to go after. I wanted to go somewhere completely different than SoCal, I needed to get away from the sun, the sand, and the perfectly tanned models of Santa Barbara. So I literally typed “hipster cities” into google and boom “Portland”. Then it was as easy as that, I typed “Universities in Portland” and got my small list. I loved the idea of coming to a private school because I wanted a place where I wouldn’t just become a number and I was interested continuing to learn about Catholicism. From that moment I had decided on UP, but it was calling the transfer admissions counselor Linda Cannard that really solidified my decision. She was so inviting, and extremely helpful. I get asked a lot how it was possible that every single one of my classes from SBCC transferred flawlessly into UP. My answer is always that she planned out my schedule for SBCC and I only took those specific classes. When it came time to apply to schools I ONLY applied to UP. I had no backup plan, I just told myself I had to get in and if I didn’t I would apply again asap. Thank God I got in.

What was the adjustment process like since you had to adapt to a new city, state, school, etc.? 

Adapting to Portland was amazing, it was like I belonged here all my life. The mood here is relaxed, non-judgmental, and weird. I fit in perfectly, that’s actually one of the first things my parents noticed about the city. Adjusting to being away from my family was rough, especially as an only child my parents are my best friends and not seeing them everyday was and continues to be difficult. But it gets easier with time and I know that by being here I am making both my parents and myself extremely proud and that keeps me going.

Adjusting to the school has been difficult at times, trying to find friends in a small campus especially coming in as a junior was really hard. But with time I came to know more and more people. I am actually glad that transferring has forced me to reach out to people for friendships, something that makes me very nervous but that has helped me grow.

How do you think it would’ve been different had you come here right out of high school?

I think I would have lost pieces of myself. The two and a half years of community college where I was working two jobs and commuting from home really taught me so much about who I am and what I am capable of doing. It taught me that friends come and go and at the end you are left with your true best friends and that’s all you need. It taught me that my parents will love me no matter what and that they will always lift me up. It taught me to really value my family. And most importantly I learned how to be an adult and how to stand up for myself and my beliefs no matter what.

You’ve been here for about a year now — how are you liking it? What things do you like or dislike about it?

I love it. This school has been all I could ask for. The professors have been nothing but supportive, Mehling has become my home, and the feel of this campus just fits perfectly with me. I have taken use of the many resources on campus and I am so grateful for all of them. All the activities we hold on campus really give everyone a chance to participate in something fun and that was a saving grace when I first transferred in. Perhaps the only thing I would like to see improve is the transfer orientation. When I transferred in, the orientation was fun and introduced you to other transfers for a day but it ended there. It would have been nice to have another opportunity such as a transfer student dinner or meeting to see familiar faces again and possibly establish friendships.  

Would you recommend UP to others who are looking at colleges?

Absolutely.

What do you wish you had known when you were transferring to UP?

How to buy food at Commons without looking like an idiot. 

I'm a junior psychology major at the University of Portland. I'm an portrait photographer, intersectional feminist and Vice President of UP's Feminist Discussion Group, an activist, lover of reading and writing, and member of the LGBT+ community.
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